BYD’s Tesla Model 3 EV rival set to launch in Australia


Fast-growing Chinese electric vehicle company BYD is preparing to launch a new electric sedan to rival the Tesla Model 3 – and Australian orders are expected to start in late 2022.

The BYD Seal, as it is known in China, has just gone on sale in its domestic market and deliveries are expected to begin this month. We do not yet know what it will be called here.

Media sources cite pre-order numbers of between 60,000 and 110,000 cars, depending on which sources you read. Either way, it looks like a success.

The good news from an Australian perspective is that you should be able to get your hands on one in 2023, as local BYD importer EVDirect.com.au is planning a major expansion.

Camera iconProvided Credit: CarExpert
Camera iconProvided Credit: CarExpert
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Camera iconProvided Credit: CarExpert

Expect orders to be taken both online and in-store at one of BYD’s recently detailed national dealerships backed by ASX-listed entity Eagers Automotive.

The BYD Seal is expected to be one of two additional BYDs going on sale here this year, the other likely a small hatchback based on the Chinese market BYD Dolphin.

Its first Australian-market vehicle, the Atto 3 small SUV, arrives in August.

The company confirmed to us this week that local orders for the BYD Seal are set to open for Australia later in 2022, although it can’t offer a delivery time frame just yet.

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For some vague background, the BYD Atto 3 is coming from August after some delays, which is about six months after its pricing was announced.

As for the name of the BYD Seal in the Australian market, that is also unclear. It is our understanding that ‘Atto 4’ as speculated elsewhere will not be used on this vehicle, however.

EVDirect.com.au claims to already have 3,500 pre-orders for the Atto 3, which if delivered would put the company as Australia’s No. 1 EV seller behind Tesla.

While the Atto 3 will rival the soon-to-be-updated MG ZS EV on the lower end of the market, the BYD Seal in size and shape is more of a Tesla Model 3 competitor.

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Camera iconBYD’s Japanese Launch Event Credit: CarExpert

As such, it is referred to in China as BYD’s most important car. The Warren Buffet-backed BYD, remember, is one of Tesla’s biggest competitors among non-“legacy” auto suppliers.

It’s the same BYD that announced last week that it was set to launch three electric vehicles in Japan in 2023: the Atto 3, the Seal and the Dolphin – unusual for a Chinese brand.

Other conceptually similar target models are clearly the Polestar 2 and the recently unveiled Hyundai Ioniq 6.

The BYD Seal is 4800mm long, about 100mm longer than the Model 3. Its entry price is just over 220,000 yuan (A$46,500) compared to 280,000 yuan (A$59,300). ) for the Tesla.

This is before discounts.

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Camera iconProvided Credit: CarExpert
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The styling of the BYD Seal, penned under former Audi design director Wolfgang Egger, closely mimics that of the recent BYD Ocean-X concept.

Claimed nationwide range is between 550km and 700km depending on battery, although it’s not yet clear how well it will achieve these in the real world. The WLTP range of the base model is expected to be around 450 km.

Normal-range single-motor versions (assumed to be rear-wheel-drive) use a 150kW, 310Nm motor and 61.4kWh “BYD Blade” battery, and achieve 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds claimed. The autonomy is 550 km.

The longer-range mid-range models offer outputs of 230kW and 360Nm and a larger 82.5kWh battery, and a 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds. The autonomy is 700 km.

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The dual-motor AWD performance model claims outputs of 390 kW and 670 Nm with the addition of another motor. BYD quotes a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds and a range of 400 miles.

The Seal is based on BYD’s new flexible skateboard-like “E-Platform 3.0” with the exclusive “Blade” brand lithium-iron-phosphate batteries (up to 800V system voltage). This style of chemistry – also in the China-made Model 3 – is designed to maximize stability and cycle life.

In terms of curb mass, previous BYD government documents list figures between 1885kg for the base and 2150kg for the dual motor – a little more than the Tesla which is listed between 1752kg and 1836kg.

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MORE: All BYD Content


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